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Ideas for Using "Every-Day Edits" in Your Classroom

Among the proven techniques for improving test scores is regular exposure to skills that will be required for those tests. Daily exposure to language skills -- including skills of spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar -- will build students' skills and increase test scores.


Language Arts & Reading

Looking for fresh language arts and reading teaching ideas? Education World presents a variety of language and literature resources that all teachers can use to liven up instruction. Find dozens of valuable teaching ideas in our Language Arts and Literature Subject Center.

That's why Education World has introduced Every-Day Edits, a feature that provides daily practice in a wide variety of basic language skills. Each day, we provide a paragraph with ten built-in errors of basic spelling, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization. Send students on a hunting expedition, then review the work with them. This daily exposure is sure to cement some very important skills as it lays the foundation for improving students' test scores.

Each daily paragraph shares some very timely information too -- high-interest information that will build cultural literacy as it improves language skills.


Following are a handful of ideas for using Education World's Every-Day Edit activities:

  • Every-Day Edit makes a great "bell-ringer" activity. Print out the activity page each day and set it in the "Every-Day Edit spot" in your classroom. Students will pick up a copy as soon as they walk into class in the morning or immediately after recess or lunch break and settle right down and get to work as you spend a few minutes taking attendance or doing last-minute lesson preparations.
  • When you photocopy the Every-Day Edit activities, print an extra copy of each activity on a transparency. As students are finishing up the activity, project your copy onto a whiteboard or a sheet of chart paper. Invite students to take turns marking the errors in the paragraph. Keep track of how many students are called on in order to correctly mark all ten errors. The number of students required to find all ten errors should decrease over time. That'll be proof that students' language skills are growing.
  • How about having students complete the activity in pairs or small groups? (This is an especially effective strategy if the Edits seem to be difficult for your students; it's also an effective strategy in the middle-school grades, because students of that age love to socialize.) The student pairs or teams can talk through -- and debate -- their corrections as they make them. See how many pairs/teams can correctly identify all ten errors. You might even keep score and award a prize each quarter to members of the team with the most perfect scores. Change the makeup of the teams at the start of each new quarter.
  • Give students instant feedback. As students complete papers, you might correct them immediately. You can correct quickly by simply circling any incorrect edits that students make and handing papers back to them. No need to say a word; just hand back the papers. Then students have a second chance to correctly mark the errors. If they identify all ten errors the second time around, give them a perfect score of 10 points. If students correctly identify all ten errors on the first attempt, award them a bonus point -- give them 11 points instead of 10! Keep track of scores over a 10-day period to create a 100-point test grade. (A student who gets all ten Every-Day Edit activities right the first time around will have a test grade of 110.)
  • Use Every-Day Edits as a daily all-class activity. Divide the class into two teams. Present the day's Every-Day Edit paragraph to the class. Have a student on one team share one correction that needs to be made to the paragraph. If the student makes a correct correction, his or her team earns a point. Then it's the other team's turn to point out another correction that needs to be made. Alternate between teams until all ten corrections have been identified. How many points did each team earn? Which team was the winning team? To add some suspense and competition to the activity, tally the teams' points over the period of a week or a month. The team with the highest score at the end of that time will earn a special reward such as a homework-free-night coupon, an ice pop, or an extra recess
  • Students' editing skill will improve dramatically with regular use of Every-Day Edits. Once students are doing well, start supplying actual sentences and paragraphs from your students' writing. Write or photocopy them onto transparencies and let students edit their classmates' work. They will see that they and their peers make some of the same kinds of mistakes found on Every-Day Edits activities. That will drive home the practicality of -- and the need for -- the daily practice.
  • Just for fun: Once each month, throw a pop comprehension quiz. Create a 10-question matching activity to test how much factual information students retained from that month's Every-Day Edit activities. In the left column, include names of people and events that were the subjects of ten of the Every-Day Edit paragraphs that month; in the right column include a brief statement that identifies the reason the person or event is famous. Besides improving students' language skills, Every-Day Edit builds cultural literacy; it makes students more aware of famous people and events in history.

At Which Grades Are Every-Day Edits

Appropriate grade levels for Every-Day Edits can vary. It depends on how they are used. They could be used in the middle of third grade if students and teacher read through the text together so students don't stumble on the vocabulary. Students could be left to edit on their own or in pairs; then the activity could be reviewed as a class.

For the most part, the typical fourth grader is developing the skills required to do these activities. Their performance on these activities should improve dramatically with use. After a few weeks of daily exposure, students should be able to do most of the edit activities successfully (no more than two, occasionally three, errors). The key to success is sticking with Edits. Don't expect instant mastery; and don't give up if students seem frustrated at first. If that is the case, do the activities as a class activity for a week, then as an activity for student pairs for another week. Take time to go over the activities as a group. But, whatever you do, don't give up. Have high expectations -- expect students to improve and, in time, they will. In this case, practice will make perfect!

Bottom line, Every-Day Edits are a nice teaching tool at grades 3-8. You'll be developing students' abilities to spot errors. But they should be used to teach; mastery should not be assumed. From grade 5 up, most students should be able to do these independently -- once they are into the rhythm of them (after several weeks of daily exposure).



Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor in Chief
Copyright © 2006 Education World


Originally published 08/01/2004
Updated 08/09/2006